Mauryan Art

Examine the influence of Buddhism and its concepts on the art of Mauryan empire with suitable examples. (150 Words)

Ashoka made a dramatic conversion to Buddhism after witnessing the carnage that resulted from his conquest of Kalinga. He adopted the teachings of the Buddha known as the Four Noble Truths, referred to as the dharma. We can see following influence of Buddhism and its concepts on the art of Mauryan Empire.
Influence of Buddhism and its concepts on the art of Mauryan Empire -:
  1. The physical appearance of the pillars underscores the Buddhist doctrine. Most of the pillars were topped by sculptures of animals.
  2. Each pillar is also topped by an inverted lotus flower, which is the most pervasive symbol of Buddhism (a lotus flower rises from the muddy water to bloom unblemished on the surface—thus the lotus became an analogy for the Buddhist practitioner as he or she, living with the challenges of everyday life and the endless cycle of birth and rebirth, was able to achieve Enlightenment).
  3. This flower, and the animal that surmount it, form the capital, the topmost part of a column. Most pillars are topped with a single lion or a bull in either seated or standing positions. The Buddha was born into the Shakya or lion clan. The lion, in many cultures, also indicates royalty or leadership. The animals are always in the round and carved from a single piece of stone.
  4. They were also erected at pilgrimage sites such as at Bodh Gaya, the place of Buddha’s Enlightenment, and Sarnath, the site of his First Sermon and Sanchi, where the Mahastupa, the Great Stupa of Sanchi, is located. Stupa is a burial mound for an esteemed person. When the Buddha died, he was cremated and his ashes were divided and buried in several stupas. These stupas became pilgrimage sites for Buddhist practitioners.
  5. Several symbols became popular as stand-ins for the human likeness of the Buddha. The lotus, as noted above, is one. The lion, which is typically seen on the Ashokan pillars, is another.
  6. The wheel (chakra) is a symbol of both samsara, the endless circle of birth and rebirth, and the dharma, the Four Noble Truths.



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